Chicken and Vegetable Skewers with Peanut Sauce

A few weeks ago I won a giveaway from Real Mom Kitchen...Hooray!!! When I received my package in the mail it included a bottle of Xagave (a sweetener made from agave nectar) along with a cookbook. This is the first recipe I have tried and we LOVED it! I can't wait to try some more and to try replacing the sugar in some of my other recipes with the Xagave to see how they turn out! We served it with our leftover onion rice and I poured some of the sauce on top...delish!!!

- 1 lb. meat (we used chicken, but the recipe called for salmon, you could also skip and just grill the veggies...also, I used this rub on the meat)
-1 lb. mixed vegetables (we used mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and onions)
-wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 2 hours)
1 T. Xagave
4 T. peanut butter
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 t. fresh minced ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 c. low fat coconut milk
3 T soy sauce
crushed red pepper to taste
*Place all ingredients for sauce in blender and puree for 1 min. Pour into bowl.

-Slice salmon in 1"x4" strips and skewer length-wise. (I cut chicken into chunks and put on skewers in between veggies).
-Cut veggies into cubes and skewer.
-Broil at 500 degrees or grill for 5 minutes or until cooked through (we grilled and it took longer than 5 in for our chicken to cook through).

Spaghetti Casserole

This recipe is from the Southern Living Slow-Cooker cookbook and was a huge hit with the kiddos! They love spaghetti and I loved the extra flavor of the Parmesan white sauce...not to mention the fact that I was able to prepare it earlier in the afternoon, leave the house and come home to dinner all ready. Addie and I had leftovers for lunch yesterday and it was still delish :-)!

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 med onion, chopped
1 (26 oz) jar tomato and basil pasta sauce (I used leftover Basic Marinara)
1/4 c butter
1/4 c all purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk (I used 2%)
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t pepper
8 oz uncooked spaghetti, broken into pieces (I used 12 oz gluten-free noodles)
3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

-Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet until beef crumbles and is no longer pink; drain and return to skillet.
-Stir pasta sauce into beef mixture.
-Melt butter in a saucepan over med-low heat; whisk in flour/cornstarch until smooth. Cook 1 min, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over med heat, whisking constantly, 8 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. -Remove from heat, and stir in Parmesan cheese and pepper.
-Spoon 1/3 of meat mixture into a lightly greased slow cooker. Spread 1/2 of broken noodles over meat mixture; pour 1/2 of white sauce over noodles, and sprinkle with 1 c cheddar cheese.
-Repeat layers once (1/3 meat, rest of noodles, rest of white sauce, 1 c cheese). Spread remaining meat mixture over cheese. Top with remaining 1 c cheddar cheese.
-Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
(mine got a little burnt around the edges...I wasn't home keeping an eye on I would say 3-4 hours depending on the cooker and when the noodles are done cooking)

Penne with Chickpeas, Feta and Tomatoes

I scored a super cheap subscription to Cooking Light and this recipe come from my first issue (March 2010). I wanted a fun new lunch recipe to try and to share with a friend and this one caught my eye. In the magazine it is described, "salty feta, sweet cherry tomatoes, and nutty chickpeas combine for a hearty Greek-inspired pasta dish." I thought it was really easy and really different and really GOOD! It would be great as a dinner dish as well and some grilled chicken would be a nice addition.

-8 oz uncooked penne (I used gluten-free rice penne)
-2 T olive oil
-1/2 c. chopped shallots (I used green onion)
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper
-1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
-3 c. halved cherry tomatoes (I quartered some of mine)
-3/4 c (3 oz) crumbled feta cheese
-1/3 c. small fresh basil leaves (I didn't have and sprinkled generously with oregano)
-1/2 t. salt
-1/2 t. grated lemon rind (I squirted lemon juice in it)
-1/4 t. ground black pepper

-Cook pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 c. cooking liquid
-Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic; saute 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
-Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas; saute 2 min, stirring occasionally.
-Add tomatoes; saute 2 minutes.
-Stir in pasta and reserved cooking liquid; cook 1 min or until thoroughly heated.
-Remove from heat. Add feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine.

Onion Rice

This is a simple and basic recipe, but a great way to add a little extra pizazz to a plain rice side. I didn't have red onions on hand, so I just used a white onion but we loved it. It didn't take away from the flavor of our main dish but was still good enough to stand on it's own. (recipe came from All Recipes)


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped (I used white onion)
1 cup long-grain white rice (I used 1 1/2 c)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth (I used 3 c)

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in the onion, and cook until almost tender.
Stir in rice, and continue cooking until coated with oil.
When onion is tender and rice begins to brown lightly, season with pepper, and pour in the broth.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Potato Fish Fry

I adapted this recipe from my Southern Living Easy Weeknight Favorites cookbook. My mom gave it to me a few years ago and I have found lots of easy and tasty recipes in it. I think the best thing about fish is how fast it cooks! Love that! We all loved this recipe... The girls both LOVE fish and asked for seconds. I loved that it was crunchy and had the "fried" taste, but was still gluten-free! (I served it with Onion Rice and Sweet Braised coming)

2 fish fillets (we used catfish because it was on sale)
1/2 c. instant mashed potato flakes
1 T. sesame seeds
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. canola oil, divided

-Combine potato flakes and sesame seeds in a shallow dish.
-Combine egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper in another dish.
-Dip fish in egg mixture; dredge in potato mixture.
-Heat 3 T. oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.
-Fry fish in oil 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Repeat with second fillet.

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin

I've been in the mood for more creamy potatoes after making the individual potato gratins. What I was really hoping to make was a copycat recipe of Cracker Barrel's hashbrowns, but it was Saturday and I didn't want to go to the store. When I saw these guys on The Pioneer Woman's site, I was thrilled that I had enough of what I needed to whip them up. They were super easy and super tasty!

4 whole Russet Potatoes, Scrubbed Clean
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened (I didn't use that much)
1-½ cup Heavy Cream (for the cream and milk I used 1 c. half and half and 1 c. 1% milk b/c that's what was in my fridge)
½ cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Flour (I used cornstarch)
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a baking dish.
Slice potatoes, then cut slices into fourths.
In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.
Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling.
Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Muddy Buddies

We've probably all made these before, but I'm posting this so I don't have to do a search online for the recipe every time I want to make them :-). I used to have the recipe down by memory and made them for my volleyball team when we had big games coming up in high school (and still have a scar on my foot from the burn I got when the tupperware bowl I was melting chocolate chips in melted through and scalding chocolate landed on my foot), but now that I rarely make them I can never remember how many cups of cereal, etc. Here is the official Chex recipe.

9 cups Corn, Rice, Wheat or Chocolate Chex® cereal, or combination (I use corn and rice)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Blackened Chicken

I found this recipe on All Recipes. I knew I wanted Individual Potato Gratins as part of the meal and was excited to try the Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce so I went searching for a blackened chicken recipe that I thought would go well with them. The combination of the flavors of these 3 things hit the spot for me last night. It was just what I wanted and I LOVED every bite!

(the recipe is only for 2 chicken breasts, so plan accordingly if you have a bigger family)
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (I used black pepper)
* 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
* 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes until it is smoking hot.
2. Mix together the paprika, salt, cayenne, cumin, thyme, white pepper, and onion powder. Oil the chicken breasts with cooking spray on both sides, then coat the chicken breasts evenly with the spice mixture.
3. Place the chicken in the hot pan, and cook for 1 minute. Turn, and cook 1 minute on other side. Place the breasts on the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 5 minutes.

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

SOOO good, SOOO easy, SOOO flavorful! LOVED them! Thanks to The Sister's Cafe for this recipe!
(we had it with Blackened Chicken and Individual Potato awesome combination of flavors!!!)

1 bunch fresh asparagus
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. butter
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Snap ends off of washed asparagus and place on baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes or until tender. Melt the butter in a sauce pan or in the microwave. Stir in soy sauce and Balsamic vinegar. Pour over baked asparagus and serve.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

It may not look good, but it was great :-)! I saw this recipe (from For the Love of Cooking) on Sarah's blog and thought it sounded great. I haven't used lentils in awhile and was excited for a warm soup on these chilly days. The soup was SOOO good! Ella even asked for seconds and Mike said that he liked it too. Addie ate hers, which is a feat in itself right now. It made tons too...two meals worth.

1-2 tsp olive oil
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used roasted garlic tomatoes)
4 chicken and herb sausages, quartered and diced
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
8 cups of chicken broth
3 cups of prepared lentils
Fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. (I just used a regular pot and made it on the stove)
Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add the carrots, celery, sausage, garlic, tomatoes, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper; stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, lentils and bay leaf, stir then cover and simmer for 1-2 hours.
Remove the bay leaf then blend the soup for 30 seconds with an immersion blender, to make the soup a bit thicker; make sure you don't blend too long. (I just put half of it in my regular blender)
Add the fresh chopped parsley to the soup and serve.

Basic Marinara Sauce

Mike's cousin Michele, of The Occasional Vegetarian, has some great recipes (remember the easy French bread?!) and posted this one on her personal blog not too long ago. Ella has been begging for spaghetti so we decided to have it for our Valentine's dinner (it is red after all). I remembered seeing this recipe and thought I would try it out. It is SOOOO yummy!!! I couldn't stop taste testing it :-). We had enough for I would say 3 full meals too...we ate it last night (I added some cooked ground beef to that portion), I gave some to a friend, and we still had enough to freeze another meal's worth. It was easy and SO worth it!!! (recipe originally from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
2 carrots peeled and finely chopped
1/2 t sea salt, plus more to taste (I used 1 t total)
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste (I used 1 t total)
2 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat oil over med-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add celery, carrots, salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer, uncovered, over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper if needed.
* Michele suggested blending it once it was cooked and had cooled a little for a smoother sauce which I did.

My cute little chopping helpers :-).

Smoked Turkey Brie and Apple Panini

Nothing is better than lunch with friends...especially when they make you this yummy sandwich from My Kitchen Cafe :-)! I brought over my own rice bread so I could have a gluten-free version and the crispy bread with the gooey cheese, yummy turkey, sweet apples and carmelized onions was absolutely heavenly. I can hardly even blog about it now...I just want MORE!!!

Artisan, sourdough or french bread, cut into desired slices
Shaved or sliced smoked turkey
4 ounces Brie cheese, wax removed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 apple, cored and cut into thin slices (I used a Gala apple)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons

In a small saucepan, melt 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and beginning to caramelize, 10-12 minutes. Set aside.
Place a single layer of brie on one slice of the bread. Top with sliced turkey, apples, caramelized onions and finally with another layer of brie. Place the other slice of bread on top of the sandwich.
Preheat a skillet or indoor grill pan to medium heat. Place sandwich in the pan and top with a heavy skillet or panini press. Grill 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and heated through.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Mmmm, Mmmm GOOD!!! I fell in love with these from the moment I started preparing them :-). The insides reminded me a lot of one of my favorite enchilada recipes but these were a fun change from enchiladas (which we eat a lot of around here). I came across this fabulous recipe on Fabulously Delicious (recipe originally from Our Best Bites) and I will definitely be making them again and again. You could keep them meatless by switching out the chicken for some black beans or mix it up with some shredded beef or pork too (which I really want to do). They definitely satisfy the itch for some taquitos while still keeping it light...perfect! The whole family loved them, even the girls. Unfortunately my avocados weren't ripe yet because I really wanted some yummy guac with them!

1/3 cup (3 oz) cream cheese (I used half a block (so 4 oz) of 1/3 fat cheese)
1/4 cup green salsa
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic (I wasn't sure what this was so I used garlic powder)
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used 1 can)
1 cup grated pepperjack cheese
small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
2. Warm the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine, and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.
*You can prepare up to this step ahead of time; just refrigerate!
3. Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. Place 2-3 Tbsp. of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges, and then roll it up as tight as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Spray the tops of the tortillas lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.
4. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.
(I used 15 corn tortillas, but over stuffed some of mine so all the yummy guts leaked out...I would use 18-20 tortillas next time)

Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream Cake

Since I have yet to plan my menu for the week and go to the grocery store, I thought I would post this HEAVENLY cake my mom brought to our SuperBowl/Birthday party Sunday. Heaven for me is chocolate, peanut butter and ice cream and this covered them all :-). I'm day dreaming about eating it again someday! (I wish I had taken better pictures that do it's magnificence justice!)

* 2 T Vegetable oil
* 2/3 c Peanut butter
* 5 T Butter; melted
* 1/4 c Honey
* 1/2 gallon Vanilla ice cream
* 29 Chocolate-dipped wafer
* 1/2 c Bottled hot fudge sauce (I think my mom used her own homemade kind)
* 24 Cream-filled chocolate cookies (aka: Oreos)

Remove ice cream from freezer 30 minutes before using.
Place chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor. Whirl until crumbed. Add butter. Whirl until combined.
Stand wafer cookies around inside edge of 9-inch springform pan.
Reserve 3/4 cup of chocolate crumb mixture. Spoon remaining crumb mixture into pan; press evenly over bottom.
Stir peanut butter, honey and oil in small dish until blended.
Place softened ice cream in large bowl. Drizzle about half of peanut butter mixture onto ice cream; fold together to swirl. Spoon half of the ice cream mixture into the prepared pan; spread level.
Sprinkle evenly with remaining chocolate cookie crumb mixture, pressing mixture down with back of spoon. Spoon on remaining ice cream; spread level.
Place the cake on a baking sheet and place in freezer.
Freeze until cake is solid, at least 6 hours or overnight.
To serve, stir fudge sauce in glass measure to loosen, but do not warm. Spoon remaining peanut butter in blobs over top of cake along with blobs of fudge topping. Swirl together with the tip of a knife.
Let stand for 10 minutes. Slice cake into wedges.

Blue Cheese Asparagus Rolls

My sister in law Cheryl made these for one of our parties over the holidays and everyone loved them. They are SOOOO good, easy and a nice change from the usual party food.

One 5 oz. tub of crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
One pack of (about 15-20) large asparagus stalks
One tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls

Mix together the blue cheese with the 2 tbsp. of mayonnaise
Wash and trim asparagus
Unroll crescent dough
(I unrolled it onto my cutting board covered with saran wrap so it wouldn't stick)
Roll dough until thin
Spread blue cheese mixture over dough
Place asparagus stalk onto the dough and roll until it is covered
Cut the dough and proceed to cut the covered stalk into bite size pieces
Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes
(makes about one and a half of the 9" x 12" pans)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I ate a dip like this at a work gathering a few months ago and couldn't stop eating it. I knew I wanted to make something similar for our Super Bowl party and went searching online for a recipe. I found this one on All Recipes and it turned out DELISH!!! LOVE it :-)!

* 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained (I used 1 12.5 oz can)
* 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 fat)
* 1 cup Ranch dressing (I used Blue Cheese dressing)
* 3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot®)
* 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
* celery, crackers or tortilla chips

1. Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.
2. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.
3. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks, crackers, and/or tortilla chips.
(I put mine in oven at 350 degrees until heated through and cheese on top melted)

Texas Trash Chex Mix

I am really excited about Kirsten's new recipe blog, Fabulously Delicious! I have book-marked quite a few recipes to try for dinner, but this one was calling my name last night...especially with our party coming up on Sunday. I made one gluten-free batch, replacing the pretzel sticks with Bugles, and one that followed the recipe exactly. Yum, yum, yummy!!!

1/2 cup butter (I used 6 T)
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups rice Chex
2 cups wheat Chex (I used corn to keep it gluten-free)
4 oz. shoestring potatoes
2 cups pretzel sticks (did a batch with bugles)
1 cup salted nuts (used peanuts)

1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Mix in Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt and garlic powder. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
2. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (I stirred every 10 minutes).

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

This was great and SO easy...I mean, 4 ingredients, come on!!! I saw the recipe on a Karen's new recipe blog, Favorites, and I can't wait to try out her tortilla soup recipe with the leftover chicken tomorrow night! The recipe calls for the meat to be cooked in the oven, but I threw it in the crock pot earlier in the day so I didn't have to worry about anything at dinner time. I love all the new food blogs popping up...I have so many new recipes I want to try :-)!

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (I used 6 breasts)
8 oz apricot jam
12 oz salsa (I used a mild and there wasn't any spice to the chicken, so you may want to amp yours up)
1 pkg taco seasoning

Combine last three ingredients. Mix with chicken in 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 min. Serve with rice.

"Fresh" Salsa

I found this recipe on Just What Am I Cooking and liked that is was a homemade salsa recipe but used canned tomatoes...perfect for this time of year before tomatoes are in season. I added extra jalapenos (2 gave it no heat at all, and I'm pretty wimpy), extra garlic and used about 2 T. of salt. The recipe makes 8 cups of salsa, so you may want to halve the recipe. I refrigerated it overnight to let the flavors combine and Jamie simmers it on the stove for a few minutes and serves it warm to accomplish the same thing. I'm considering my first try at home made salsa a success :-). If you have a favorite salsa recipe, please share! I would love to find a favorite!

2 29oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 can diced green chiles
3-4 diced jalapenos (deviened and deseeded)
2 bunches of green onions (white and green parts)
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch of cilantro

Put it all in a blender (my blender is not big enough for it all so I put all but 1 can of tomatoes in the blender).
Pour that first mix into a bowl and then blend the second can of tomatoes (can leave a little chunky if preferred).
Mix the two together and either simmer or refrigerate.

Our Weekly Salad Bag

This isn't really a recipe, just an idea that we have been using for a long, long time.
We try to eat salad with nearly every dinner, but it was such a pain to make the salad every night that we often would just skip it. Mike had the idea to make a huge one, put it in a ziploc bag and keep it on hand. At the beginning of each week we (well, usually Mike) chop up our veggies, throw them together, and we're all set.
This bag is Mike's favorite mix:
iceberg lettuce,
shredded carrots (I buy a pre-shredded bag),
and green onions.
( I sneak in other lettuces when I can :-)